Janet Estep is surrounded by almost constant change, both in her own career and in the quickly evolving technology that pressures many of the established banks that make up Nacha's member roster.

'"Incumbents' are challenged the most with this, as tried and true ways of delivering services and products may rapidly disappear in lieu of things not even thought about five years ago," says Estep, president and CEO of Nacha, the electronic payments association.

Nacha manages the Automated Clearing House network that served more than 10,000 financial institutions and processed more than 21 billion payments in 2012, up more than 15% from 2008.

Estep, who was previously honored by PaymentsSource's 2013 Most Influential Women in Payments, frequently lobbies financial institutions on the benefits of automated payments processing, particularly as more nimble startups leverage mobile and online technology to deliver near real-time processing.

Estep and Nacha are also encouraging same day processing, which would make it easier for banks to offer payments as a merchant and customer acquisition tool.

"The ACH Network offers its participants the great advantage of providing a solid infrastructure upon which to adapt with technology, as they focus on the end user and customize that ultimate experience in a way that can differentiate them from other providers," says Estep.

Her career has involved roles at a variety of companies including U.S. Bank, IBM and an environmental lab in the Twin Cities. She started working at Nacha in 2008.

"What a change¬óbut what a learning experience. Moving from that [environmental] background into financial services, and all aspects of payments, afforded me the opportunity to blend all of my experiences together, to more effectively lead a combination of all areas of a business and apply general management concepts in a broad way," Estep says.

During her career, she's also seen the role of women increase in the payments industry, though she says there's still room for women to progress.

"Women have made in-roads in lots of traditionally male-dominated fields over the last several decades, and the payments industry is no exception," she says. "There's always more progress to be made, but I absolutely feel like this industry is on the right track when it comes to hiring women, but also elevating them to those crucial leadership positions."

See the full list of honorees for this year's Most Influential Women in Payments.

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